Just prior to Dallas’ game against New Orleans, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle informed the media that Dirk Nowitzki would miss four straight games to work on “conditioning issues” according to multiple sources.
The official listing is that Nowitzki’s sore right knee is causing the time out. Conditioning has been an issue for the Mavericks all season, as they struggle with both being an older team in a lockout-shortened season that played into June, and hangover from last season’s championship celebration. Lamar Odom has been notably out of shape, but no one on the Mavericks outside of Ian Mahinmi has really seemed sharp. But Nowitzki has clearly been bothered by the knee and sporadic time off hasn’t helped it. Hence the “conditioning” part.
The Mavericks seem to be in search of a reset on their season. If they can get Nowitzki healthy and get Lamar Odom involved mentally and physically, things could turn, the team could gel, and be dangerous in April. But trying to struggle through a season in which so much has gone against them and wearing out Nowitzki makes no sense. The competition also factors into this, with Dallas playing New Orleans, Phoenix, Minnesota, and Utah during that stretch. Those are some decent teams, but it’s not an onslaught of Western powerhouses. Hopefully Nowitzki’s knee will improve and he’ll get back to Dirk-like condition.